The Vietnam War Lesson Guide

Theme 2: Popular Beliefs and Misconceptions—All Sides

Theme Overview

Lessons will explore the degree of understanding and the many misunderstandings Americans have about Vietnam, it’s people and it’s struggles. What were the understandings and misunderstandings of the nature of the enemy? What were the major beliefs on all sides about what type of war was being waged? A civil war or a war of liberation or a war to promote or curtail communism? How do those who lived through the Vietnam Era view that crucial period in American history today? What perceptions do today’s students have regarding the Vietnam War Era? Upon what are these perceptions based?

Essential questions:
  • How did preconceptions and misunderstandings affect the Vietnamese and the United States war efforts?
  • Why is it important for a nation to fully understand its advisories?
The lessons
  • Analysis of Early US Strategy: Myth and Reality—Students view selected video clips from The Vietnam War on the newly elected Kennedy administration and its sense of American exceptionalism. Students will record potential points of conflict and misunderstanding between the United States and the different military and political factions in Vietnam.
    Time period: 1960-1962

    Video Clip:
  • The Battle of Ap Bac - Students will view a selected video segment from The Vietnam War that describes the battle of Ap Bac. Students will follow the progress and outcome of the battle and evaluate the effectiveness of the US military advisors’ work with the ARVN.
    Time period: 1961-1963

Video Clips: